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Physical Therapy Treatment for Low Back Pain

Most people will suffer from low back pain at some point in their life. How do you know if you will get better on your own or need to go to the doctor?? Many people just want the pain to go away and will visit their doctor in search of pain medication. Other people may visit a massage therapist or chiropractor. Did you know that you could self refer to Physical Therapy?? Idaho has direct access which means you don’t need a doctor’s referral for Physical Therapy, unless you are a Medicare patient. Physical Therapists are most qualified to evaluate low back pain. We are trained to assess range of motion, joint or muscle damage and can do a neurologic exam if necessary. Following a good PT evaluation, we will know if you have primarily a strained muscle, joint dysfunction, disc bulge or nerve root irritation. This information will lead to the proper treatment.
Many PTs use modalities such as Ultrasound, Interferential or Electric Stimulation for pain control. These modalities may be successfully accompanied by home program of stretching or strengthening exercise depending upon your dysfunction. Personally I use joint and soft tissue mobilization to treat most low back pain. I find that most people have a combination of joint dysfunction with associated muscle spasm. Hands on mobilization directly on the joint itself and surrounding soft tissue will improve mobility, decrease swelling and flush out toxins. Even patients with disc bulge and nerve root irritation will benefit from this type of treatment.
I also use Visceral Manipulation to treat low back pain. This technique allows me to treat fascial restrictions that may occur in the abdominal or pelvic cavities. The fascia wraps our body like a mummy and may become damaged due to trauma or surgery. How many times has your back hurt and you didn’t have and injury or know how you hurt it?? Fascial restrictions in the abdominal or pelvic cavity may be longstanding and actually lead to low back pain by tugging on organs that lie deep with the abdominal or pelvic cavity and interface with the deep postural muscles of the low back and even the disc itself. Like that last straw that broke the camels back, one hard day of yard work or sitting too long may be just enough to push these structures to the limit, resulting in some type of dysfunction.
Next time you hurt your back, try ice for 30 minutes, three times per day or some gentle stretching. I treat so many people who have been in pain for months or years because they thought it was going to get better. The body’s natural healing process takes 6-8 weeks, but if your pain is not improving at all after 1 week, it’s probably safe to say you should seek some type of treatment. Mary Boyd, MS, PT has been treating low back pain for 20 years and is the owner of Mountain View Physical Therapy, located in Stepping Stones Wellness Center at 803 West Pine Street. She can be reached at 290.5575.

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